Meteorological Department here told Business Line that Cyclone Phailin is likely to hit Gopalpur coast on the Bay of Bengal in Odisha after 6 pm IST. “The cyclone landfall is predicted after 18 hours Indian Standard Time and the wind velocity is likely to be in the range of 210 and 220 km per hour”, said A K Nath, Assistant Meteorologist at Kolkata IMD. He said weather forecast for Kolkata and its neighborhoods in the next 24 hours was predicted to be cloudy with moderate rainfall.
“In the coastal areas of West Bengal, wind speed may vary between 45 km and 55 km per hour”, he added. In city, the wind velocity was unlikely to go beyond 40 km an hour.
Cyclone ‘Phailin’, said to be the strongest cyclonic storm to hit Odisha in 14 years, is set to make a landfall this evening near Gopalpur with authorities in the State and in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh having evacuated over three lakh people from vulnerable areas.
Hundreds of personnel of Army, IAF, Navy and NDRF were positioned in areas vulnerable to be hit by ‘Phailin’ that was positioned just 260 km off the coast of Gopalpur in Odisha around noon.
With a wind speed of 210-220 kmph, the tides could rise up to 3.5 metres and sea water could enter 300-600 metres in land, the IMD said.
“The cyclone, which is moving at a speed of 15 kmph is expected to hit the coast near Gopalpur from 6 to 8 p.m. today and is likely to stay for six hours before moving ahead,” L.S. Rathore, Director-General of Meteorology, told reporters in New Delhi.The wind speed could reach up to 240 Kmph at a later stage, he said.
The department has also predicted extremely heavy rains in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Rains will also lash parts of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, East UP and Bihar.
“Even after its landfall, the cyclone impact is likely to stay for 6-8 hours after which, it will turn into a cyclone and then into deep depression,” he said.
Under impact of ‘Phailin’, the entire coastal region is being lashed by heavy rains today besides squally wind of above 70 kmph. Uprooting of electric poles and tree branches have been reported in various places.
The Odisha Government has evacuated 2.5 lakh people from six coastal districts of the State and the operation has been continuing. Of the 2.5 lakh people, one lakh people alone have been taken to safer places in Gopalpur, officials said.
“The system would move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts between Kalingapatnam and Paradip close to Gopalpur (Odisha) by the evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 210-220 kmph,” the latest IMD bulletin said.
The districts likely to experience tidal surge are Ganjam, Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara. The administration of Balasore and Bhadrak have also been put on alert, Special Relief Commissioner, Odisha, P.K. Mohapatra, said.
In Andhra Pradesh, as many as 52,000 locals were today evacuated and 25,000 people accommodated in the cyclone shelters in Srikakulam.
Yesterday, 64,000 people in the north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh were evacuated to safer places.
Vizianagaram Collector Kantilal Dande said 10,000 to 15,000 people living in vulnerable areas were being evacuated and they were monitoring the situation on a minute-to-minute basis.
The East Godavari district administration has started shifting fishermen from Uppada-Kakinada area to safer places in view of the cyclone.
Irrigation officials are monitoring the levels in water bodies in the coastal district, where medical teams have been kept ready, they said, adding,”We are expecting the intensity of cyclone to be more in the night.”
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea for the next 72 hours. Special control rooms have been set up in Kakinada, Ramachandrapuram and Amalapuram towns to monitor the situation.
Thirteen special officers have been deputed to assess the situation on the Andhra Pradesh coastline and 63 relief camps have been opened in the district.
Naval and Coast Guard services have been kept on standby in case of emergency.
The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has said ‘Phailin’ is expected to break the Indian Ocean intensity record set by the 1999 Cyclone.
Nearly 10,000 people were killed in the super cyclone of 1999 in Odisha.